A review of observations of organic matter in fogs and clouds: Origin, processing and fate

Pierre Herckes, Kalliat T. Valsaraj, Jeffrey L. Collett

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

159 Scopus citations


While fog and cloud composition has been studied for decades, most of the research was limited to inorganic species and fog acidity. Recently the focus has shifted towards organic matter in the atmospheric aqueous phase of fogs and clouds: its origin, reactivity and fate. An impressive number of fog and cloud chemistry observational studies have been performed over the last decade throughout the world. In the present work we will review the state of knowledge of atmospheric organic matter processing by fogs, with a focus on field observations. We start by reviewing observational studies in general and then discuss our knowledge on the occurrence of organic matter in fogs, its solubility, characterization and molecular speciation. Organic carbon concentrations can vary widely from approximately 1. mg. C/L in remote marine environments to more than 100. mg. C/L in polluted radiation fogs, accounting for a substantial part of fogwater solutes. The carbonaceous material can enter the droplets from the gas and particle phase and the scavenging behavior of fogs will be detailed. Observational studies showed evidence of aqueous phase transformation of organic material, in particular secondary organic aerosol (SOA) generation, in fog. Recent observations of biological material in fog suggest also an impact of biological processing within the droplets on fog organic matter. The review will end with a discussion of the impact of fog on the deposition fluxes of organic material and hence its atmospheric lifetime.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)434-449
Number of pages16
JournalAtmospheric Research
StatePublished - Oct 2013


  • Aerosol
  • Air pollution
  • Cloud
  • Fog
  • Organic carbon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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